in Africa is said to be killing more people than conflicts.


Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This condition progressively reduces the effectiveness of the immune system and leaves individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections and tumors.

HIV is transmitted through direct contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with a bodily fluid containing HIV, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, preseminal fluid, and breast milk. This transmission can involve anal, vaginal or oral sex, blood transfusion, contaminated hypodermic needles, exchange between mother and

baby during pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or other exposure to one of the above bodily fluids.

AIDS is considered a pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that there are 33.4 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS, with 2.7 million new HIV infections per year and 2.0 million annual deaths due to AIDS.

The UNAIDS estimated: 33.2 million people worldwide had AIDS that year; AIDS killed 2.1 million people in the course of that year, including 330,000 children, and 76% of those deaths occurred in subSaharan Africa.

According to UNAIDS report, worldwide some 60 million people have been infected, with some 25 million deaths, and 14 million orphaned children in southern Africa alone since the epidemic began.

Genetic research indicates that HIV originated in west-central Africa during the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. AIDS was first recognized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1981 and its cause, HIV, identified in the early 1980s.

Although treatments for AIDS and HIV can slow the course of the disease, there is no known cure or vaccine. Antiretroviral treatment reduces both the mortality and the morbidity of HIV infection, but these drugs are expensive and routine access to antiretroviral medication is not available in all countries. Due to the difficulty in treating HIV infection, preventing infection is a key aim in controlling

the AIDS pandemic, with health organizations promoting safe sex and needle-exchange programmes in attempts to slow the spread of the

AIDS in Africa is said to be killing more people than conflicts.
It causes social disruption as children become orphaned and it affects

many already-struggling economies as workforces are reduced. As an enormous continent, various regions are seeing different results as they attempt to tackle the problem. Numerous local, regional and global initiatives are slowly helping, despite significant obstacles (such as poverty, local social and cultural norms/taboos, concerns from drug companies about providing affordable medicines, and limited health resources of many countries that are now also caught up in the global financial crisis).

Between 1999 and 2010 more people died of AIDS in Africa than in all the wars on the continent.

The death toll is expected to have a severe impact on many economies in the region. In some nations, it is already being felt. Life expectancies in some nations is already decreasing rapidly, while mortality rates are increasing.

began with 24 million Africans infected with the virus. In the absence of a medical miracle, nearly all will die before 2015. Each day, 6,000 Africans die from AIDS. Each day, an additional 11,000 are infected.

- 33.4 million living with HIV - 2.7 million new infections of HIV - 2 million deaths from AIDS

Approximately 7 out of 10 deaths were in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that also has over two-thirds of adult HIV cases and over 90% of new HIV infections amongst children.

AIDS affects different segments of society in different ways. For example, children may have to care for an ill parent. Schooling may suffer as a result. Other times, children become orphans as parents succumb to AIDS. If they are lucky, children may have grandparents

or relatives to help who then face the burden of raising many children, as the London-based organization, Panos, highlights:

AIDS is exacerbated by other conditions such as TB. Addressing TB and HIV as linked infections is at the heart of the approach of the Desmond Tutu TB clinic in Stellenbosch in South Africas Western Cape, as UNAIDS highlights:

People talk of AIDS in Africa, but Africa is a diverse continent, and different regions have been attempting to tackle AIDS in different ways, some with positive effect, while others seemingly making little progress.

As many African countries have moved towards democratization, they have been rewarded with paying off the debts of their previously unelected regimes, often dictatorships backed by foreign nations, most of whom embezzled billions of dollars from their own country into private savings.

Obstruction by some major pharmaceutical companies (detailed further below) has also contributed to the hampered responses of many governments.

While poverty is undoubtedly a crucial factor as to why health problems are so severe in Africa (also detailed further below), political will of national governments is paramount, despite disheartening odds. Constraints such as social norms and taboos, or

lack of decisive or effective institutions have all contributed to the situation getting worse.

In South Africa, a relatively wealthy African nation, during much of his term former president Thabo Mbeki had long denied that AIDS resulted from HIV. Only through public outrage and international pressure was he forced to admit that there was a problem.

"Already, large percentages of households in Sub-Saharan Africa are poor, and the large number of people on treatment means ever-increasing treatment program costs. Yet, Sub-Saharan Africa only accounts for one percent of global health expenditure and two percent of the global health workforce. Currently, only one third of HIV -positive Africans in need of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment can access it."

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria recently announced it is at least $4 billion short of the money it will need to continue funding essential HIV, TB and malaria services in 2010. The coalition believes there is a $10.7 billion funding gap for regional implementation of the Global Plan to Stop TB alone.

While AIDS in Africa has now been on the agenda in many first world countries and often receives reasonable media attention, it has taken a long time to get to that position and report on the crisis and reflect the concerns of citizens in those countries to help address this problem. By: Chiara.

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